Wednesday, June 8, 2016

imports of no import

The Python standard library has hundreds of built-in modules (mine has 688 by one count). Some are more useful than others.

The most famous is "import this", which prints out the Zen of Python. The next most popular fun module could well be antigravity. Try importing it on a browser-capable machine, and (spoiler), you'll be taken here.

And Randall is right. As most people know, Python's "Hello world" is just one line: "print 'Hello world'"

But what if there were another, more confusing way to do it? Taking a page out of ow about:

>>> import __hello__
"Hello world..."

And, because it's a one-time module import, this super-useful module only works the one time:

>>> import __hello__

It even breaks that behavior on Python 3:

>>> import __hello__
"Hello world!"

And if that wasn't esoteric enough of an import, how about even more new syntax in Python 3:

>>> from __future__ import barry_as_FLUFL
>>> 'a' <> 'b'
>>> 'a' <> 'a'
This unfortunate syntax is the result of an April Fools PEP from 2009. Before this, previous attempts at introducing new syntax were met with a stiffer upper lip:

>>> from __future__ import braces
  File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: not a chance

All of which raises the question: how many undocumented jokes have made their way into Python?


Credit to Python core dev Raymond Hettinger and other Twitter friends for details and inspiration.